Archive: Pain

Take the Plunge: Benefits of Hydrotherapy

Whenever I tell a patient what I do in the shower daily, they shoot a disturbed look my way and cringe: “How could you do that?” they ask, followed by: “I couldn’t imagine willingly putting myself through that torture every single day!” hydrotherapy

You might be wondering what I am talking about. You may be surprised by the answer: Cold Water Immersion, a form of Hydrotherapy that dates back to ancient times.

In its simplest form, ending your shower with 30-60 seconds of a cold water spray stimulates immunity, energizes and revitalizes the body and mind, improves: circulation and detoxification, skin and hair vibrancy and overall wellbeing.

On days that I have a little more time, I alternate hot and cold sprays in the shower using 3 minutes of hot water, followed by 1 minute of cold water and I repeat that for a total of 3 cycles.

Cold water immersion is now all the rage, with top-levels athletes, executives and even Tony Robbins on board.

Is there proof that it works? Yes. I swear by it for myself and my patients to ward off colds and the flu and to jump-start each day.

Immunity and the Common Cold

According to the Natural Standards Database, preliminary clinical evidence shows that taking alternating hot and cold showers, at least five times per week, decreased the frequency of the common cold. It works by increasing not only the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid, but also by increasing the number of white blood cells to fight off infection.

By increasing the flow of lymphatic fluid and white blood cells, alternating hot and cold showers support detoxification, reduce joint pain and boost immune function.

Muscle soreness and inflammation

Cold water soothes sore and achy muscles post-workout. It reduces inflammation and can decrease the need to take pain-killers.

Happiness Levels, Energy and Mental Alertness

Those that took cold showers for at least 2-3 minutes daily for several weeks reported an improvement in mood and a reduction in pain. Cold water activates cold receptors in the skin, which in turn activates our sympathetic nervous system, increasing the release of our natural endorphins and brain-boosting neurotransmitters.

Try it – you just may be surprised at how invigorating it is. And, for the morning-afters when you polished off most of the wine, it can be a life-saver.

Note: Those with heart conditions, diabetic neuropathy, nerve or sensation loss or other serious medical conditions should always consult with a licensed healthcare practitioner before starting cold water therapy.

Acupuncture: More Than Just a Skin Prick!

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that treats energetic imbalances in the body. It has been practised for over two thousand years, and is a safe, effective to way to treat a variety of acute and chronic ailments.

Qi (Chi) is the vital energy of the body. This energy travels just below the skin through channels called meridians. The meridians connect all of the body’s organs and systems. Problems arise when this vital energy becomes blocked or weakened. When this occurs, imbalances in the body’s various systems become evident. Problems can arise in the nervous system, circulatory system, musculoskeletal system, digestive system, reproductive system, lymphatic system and/or genitourinary system. Stimulation of associated acupuncture points on the body helps to restore the smooth flow of Qi and bring harmony to the affected area.

How Does it Work?

Qi normally flows smoothly through over twelve meridians or channels in the body. If a blockage occurs and the Qi is not able to course through these channels, then the entire system can be affected, resulting in pain or symptoms in the body. Acupuncture removes the blockage to restore the flow of Qi throughout the body. It brings the body back into balance and removes the symptoms.

Acupuncture can interfere with pain signals in the body. It increases blood flow to the area being stimulated, enhancing nutrient and oxygen delivery, while aiding in the removal of lactic acid and toxic substances from the area. Acupuncture stimulates the natural healing ability of the body, reduces pain and inflammation, and imparts a general sense of calmness and wellbeing in the person being treated.

Does it Hurt?

No. The needles that are used are extremely thin and are placed in anatomical positions where major blood vessels and nerves are absent. When the needles are placed correctly, you may experience a mild to moderate dull or tingling feeling.

How Many Treatments Will I Need?

The number of sessions varies with each individual and condition. In general, chronic problems will need to be treated longer than acute ones. After the first treatment, some people may notice an immediate temporary improvement, but for long-term effects, at least 4–6 weekly treatments are needed, followed by bi-weekly and then monthly treatments. Eventually, you may only need a couple of treatments a year to maintain the results.

What Can Acupuncture Be Used For?

Acupuncture can be used to treat a wide array of health concerns, including:

  • Acute and chronic pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Shoulder and neck pain
  • Arthritic pain
  • Injuries, including strains, sprains, golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, tendonitis, and hip, knee and ankle pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Back pain
  • Stress
  • Digestive complaints
  • Fertility issues
  • Skin disorders
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Nausea during pregnancy
  • Energetic imbalances
  • Lack of general wellbeing

Try These Acupressure Points at Home to Reduce Anxiety, Headaches, Nausea and Dizziness

Pericardium 6 (PC 6)

Function: Reduces nausea, motion sickness, sea-sickness, vomiting, dizziness and anxiety

Location: Approximately 2 inches above the wrist crease between the tendons of the anterior forearm

Large Intestine 4 (LI 4)

Function: Reduces chronic pain, frontal and sinus headaches, and improves immunity

Location: On the back of the hand, in the middle of the soft flesh between your thumb and index finger

Yintang

Function: Reduces anxiety, stress and insomnia, calms the mind, and reduces sinusitis and frontal headaches

Location: Halfway between the inner edges of the eyebrows

Sit back, breathe deeply and relax while you press on these points…or call to book an individualized acupuncture treatment.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed healthcare practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed healthcare professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

 

The Negative Effects of Acidity in the Body

Hearing the word “acid” evokes images of chemical skin burns, and liquids dissolving cans and various metals. It sounds like something we definitely want to stay away from!

That can be hard to do. Our body actually produces various acids every single day from the food we eat, from shallow breathing, from exercise (lactic acid) and from numerous other normal metabolic processes. Foods such as non-organic grain-fed meat, cheese, milk, grains and carbohydrates increase acid levels in the body. Medications, soda pop, processed meat and foods, artificial colours and flavours, and preservatives make us more acidic, too. Excess stress, inflammation in the body (such as arthritis) and lack of fresh air increase acidity even more!

Mind you, the effects are not quite as extreme as my first two examples, but acids in our body take their toll on our bones, teeth, muscles, joints, connective tissues, and various organs and systems. When we are too acidic, extra stress is placed on the body, which further aggravates various health issues. The body has to work overtime to reduce and buffer these extra acids. Our digestive system, lungs, liver and kidneys may all be taxed using their special mechanisms to buffer acidity in the body. When these systems are overloaded and acidity is still too high, calcium leaves our bones to buffer acidity in the bloodstream. This greatly reduces our bone integrity and increases our risk of fractures, osteopenia and osteoporosis. Excess acids can also deposit in the muscles, joints and connective tissue, increasing pain and inflammation, and contributing to arthritis, fibromyalgia, various chronic diseases, fatigue, generally feeling unwell and early aging.

You are probably now wondering how to decrease acid and increase alkalinity in the body to optimize your health!

First of all, we need to know just how acidic you actually are. Under the supervision of your Naturopathic Doctor, you can measure your urine and salivary pH at various times during the day to see how much acid you are exposed to and producing, as well how much acid your body is able to get rid of. This will give you a good yardstick to measure progress with your treatment plan.

To reduce acidity in the body, follow these 5 simple and easy tips. You may need to take alkalinizing minerals, herbs or nutrients to further reduce acidity, but be sure to discuss that with your Naturopathic Doctor before starting any natural prescriptions. The following 5 tips will get you well on your way to reducing acidity!

  1. Increase your consumption of spinach, potatoes, raisins, cauliflower, radishes, celery, eggplants, miso soup, dark leafy greens and berries. All fruits and vegetables are alkalinizing and buffer acidity in the body.
  2. Be sure to exhale fully to expel carbon dioxide from the lungs. If we are shallow breathing, then carbon dioxide is retained in the lungs and converted to an acid. Use your diaphragm and abdominal muscles to fully inhale and exhale. Count to 4 as you inhale, hold for 4 and then exhale fully for 4.
  3. Take Epsom salt baths. This helps to pull acids out of the body and introduce alkalinizing minerals into it.
  4. Eat less meat, cheese, processed foods, processed grains and carbohydrates. If you do eat something that is more acidic, be sure to get in dark leafy greens or other vegetables to counteract it.
  5. Ensure that your liver, kidneys, lungs and digestive system are working properly.It is advisable to see your Naturopathic Doctor to be put on specific drainage, detoxification and supportive remedies for these organs to function optimally.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed health care practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed health care professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.

We Can All Use a Little Spice in Our Lives: Why Not Ginger?

Ginger, oh how I love thee…

This root, I find, is underutilized and overlooked for some reason. It offers a vast array of health benefits, from boosting immune system function, and reducing pain and inflammation to reducing gas, bloating, nausea and digestive upset. It is cheap, and full of potassium, magnesium, copper, vitamin B6, manganese and gingerols, which are powerful anti-inflammatory substances.

It is a carminative, which means it reduces gastrointestinal upset, as well as an intestinal spasmolytic, meaning it reduces spasms and cramping in the digestive system. It has been shown to prevent or reduce the symptoms of sea-sickness, as well as to reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnant women.

It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and reduces the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. If you are suffering from knee pain or a sport’s injury, it can help you recover faster and reduce your suffering.

Who wouldn’t benefit from ginger?

Ginger is a warming herb and supports healthy sweating. It boosts immune system function, and can help prevent colds, flus and sore throats. If you do get sick, ginger can reduce the severity and duration of your symptoms. It is great to drink in a tea (see recipe below) on a cold winter’s day, but you can also prepare it as an iced tea to refresh and replenish you after a hot day in the sun.

And it tastes great, too! It’s pungent and spicy flavour kicks up any meal several notches, and you get the added benefits to your health as well.

You can chop it up and add it to stir-fries to bring out some heat, or you can put it in the water that you are using to steam broccoli. Simply peel a 1- to 2-inch cube of ginger (with a spoon is easiest), slice it up, add it to a pot of water, bring to a boil, then place the steam basket with the broccoli in it on top. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5–10 minutes until the broccoli is done to your liking. If you are using organic broccoli, you can even use the leftover ginger water for ginger tea (see recipe below).

Here is a recipe for a Ginger, Honey and Lemon Tea. It is one of my favourites to drink when I am starting to feel sick, when I am feeling run down and cold in temperature, or if I am sore after a long, hard workout or run. You can drink it iced in the summer. Prepare as instructed below, let it cool in a glass jug on the counter and then put it in the fridge.

Ginger, Honey and Lemon Tea

1–2 inch cube of fresh ginger root

1/3 fresh lemon, sliced

Boiling water

Honey, to taste (optional)

Add slices of ginger to a pot, measure out 2–3 mugs of water and pour into the pot with the ginger. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add honey, squeeze the juice of the lemon into the mug, and then add the lemon slices as well. Pour in the hot ginger tea, then enjoy! You can drink this tea with the ginger root and lemon slices still in the mug, or can strain if you prefer.

Here is an even quicker and easier recipe, if you are feeling lazy:

Peel and slice the fresh ginger root. Place in a mug. Pour boiling water over the ginger slices and squeeze the juice of the lemon into the mug. Add the lemon slices to the mug. Allow it to steep for 3–5 minutes. Add honey to taste.

Aim to drink 2 cups a day.

Drink up and enjoy!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not meant to replace treatment with a licensed healthcare practitioner. It is for informational purposes only. Consult with a Naturopathic Doctor or other licensed healthcare professional to determine which treatments are safe for you.